The Craft Journey — Part Two
A Discussion of some of its Finger-posts and Milestones
W.Bro. J. R. Cleland, M.A., D.D., P.P.A.G.Chap. (Kent)
Part 2. "THE PREPARATION OF THE CANDIDATE"
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it." Psalm CXXVII, Y.I.
"With this myself I establish the whole Universe, and remain for ever separate." Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita.
There is but one road to the Path: at its very end alone the Voice of the Silence can be heard. The ladder by which the candidate ascends is formed of rungs of suffering and pain; these can be silenced only by the voice of virtue. Woe then to thee, disciple, if there is one single vice thou hast not left behind; for then the ladder will give way and overthrow thee; its foot rests In the deep mire of thy sins and failings, and ere thou canst attempt to cross this wide abyss of matter thou hast to leave thy feet In the waters of renunciation. Beware lest thou shouldist set a foot still soiled upon the ladder's lowest rung." (The Voice of the Silence.)
"Seek out the way. Seek the way by retreating within. Seek the way by advancing boldly without. Seek it not by any one road. To each temperament there is one road which seems most desirable. But the way is not found by devotion alone, by religious contemplation alone, by ardent progress, by self- sacrificing labour, by studious observation of life. None can take the disciple more than a single step onward. All steps are necessary to make up the ladder. The vices of men become steps in the ladder, one by one as they are surmounted. The virtues of men are steps indeed necessary — not by any means to be dispensed with, but though they create a fair atmosphere and a happy future, they are useless If they stand alone. The whole nature of man must be used wisely by one who desires to enter the way. Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the truth, and the life." (Light on the Path.)
"This alone is the perfect, the Great Argument, the Way that does not declare itself in Words ..... Though it cannot be declared in speech, silence also is inadequate for its expression." (Writings of Chwang Tzu)
Your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace." (Ephesians VI, v. 15.)
In the first paper of this series we considered some points in the ceremonies which we use in Opening the Lodge In the Three Craft Degrees, in readiness to deal with the Candidate, with whom It Is our intention to travel through these degrees and to mark by the way some of these fingerposts and milestones which may help us to a clearer understanding of the Craft. We have seen that the aim and object in view in our masonic work is the ultimate unification of these two apparently separate entities, the Candidate and the Lodge. As, therefore, the Lodge has been prepared in the ceremonies of opening, we must now consider the preparation which the Candidate must undergo in order to make him ready to take each successive step in his journey.
I need not perhaps impress upon you the importance of the most careful consideration and examination of the credentials of any man who offers himself as a candidate, before his name appears on the agenda of the Lodge for purposes of ballot, but at this point we ought, I think, to devote some thought to the consideration of the duties which devolve upon those Brethren who have decided to act as Sponsors of the Candidature. Upon them rests a far greater responsibility than is dreamed of by those all-too-numerous Brethren, who appear to be willing at any time to propose or second persons with whom they have but the slightest acquaintance, and about whose state of spiritual development they are often almost as ignorant as they are about their own.
Of course, part of the trouble lies in the fact that, in spite of the definite tightening-up which has taken place since the overwhelming rush of candidates in the later phases of the Great War, there are still many lodges which rate quantity high above quality in membership, and which make of our Sacred Science a mere peg upon which to hang their dining, drinking and other frivolities, under the much abused titles of Harmony and Refreshment. These matters have undoubtedly improved in the last few years, and indeed show ample signs of further improvement to come, but, alas, large quantities of accumulated mire and rubbish remain to be cleared away before we can see our way clear, as a Craft complete in itself, to lay a really sound and sure foundation for a return to the full glory of the Temple of the M.H., wherein the degrees of the Mysteries of God may be celebrated and conferred.
It is the duty of every Brother who sponsors a candidate into Freemasonry to assure himself that the candidate is worthy of the honour to be conferred, and likely, not only to appreciate that honour, but also to use the ever-widening opportunities which will open before him for the well-being and service of his fellow-men.
He must be a just man, a man whose judgement can be relied upon, which means that his reasoning mind must be in a high state of development. This does not mean that he shall be what is commonly termed well educated, a term which is very often a misnomer, but his judgement must be sound in that he must be capable of appreciation of his own position and of that of other men on the ladder of life. The qualification may be summed up in the one word DISCRIMINATION.
He must be an upright man, a man whose emotions, passions and desires are under due control, a qualification which we may sum up in one word again, DESIRELESSLESS.
His morals must be strict, not in the negative passive sense in which this is generally understood, but dynamically, positively and fundamentally. This is the qualification of GOOD CONDUCT.
And, he must be a freeman, carrying no inhibitions, in the physical and material sense. He must be of mature age, not only physically, but spiritually. This freedom and maturity gives him the fourth qualification of LOVE or, perhaps better, TOLERANCE.
In one word, he must be READY.
You will notice that the four qualifications I have mentioned are those which have been required from time immemorial, from all aspirants for the Path.
Above all, a candidate for Freemasonry must be in such a state as shall render him capable of being brought-into-tune with the Lodge as a whole.
He must also be in possession — although it is probable that he will not know it — of the P.W. leading to the degree of E.A.
Our ancient Egyptian brethren rendered that as to be true of voice, a term which still lingers in the common every-day expression, to ring true. In Freemasonry it takes the form of a P.W. which is given for the Candidate, together with a certification of his freedom, and the W.M. certifies further to the assembled Brethren that it has already been heard in his favour, before the Candidate can be admitted.
It is the responsibility of the Sponsors to procure and submit the necessary evidence that their candidate rings true. The Lodge Committee must further judge from their own observations whether the evidence is reliable.
The custom — all too prevalent among sponsors — of taking the whole matter too lightly and of trying to "pull the leg" of their candidate — is much to be depreciated. Men who normally are of quite kindly disposition are often guilty of letting this somewhat depraved sense of humour get the better of them in a fatuous attempt to "put the wind up" the Candidate.
Two methods I have found fairly commonly adopted by these jokers and both have their points of interest.
The first takes the form of saying to the Candidate, "Now, don't forget to have a good bath before you come along!" He naturally asks why this should be so necessary and is informed that it does no good to have the dirt burned in. I was present when just such a piece of idiocy produced such an effect upon a candidate that, on a cold winter night where there was a large fire near the door of the Temple, with a sheet metal screen before it to protect it, which, as the Candidate came opposite to it was inadvertently knocked over, he snatched off the h.w., turned and, brushing aside the Deacons and I.G., dashed from the room. His proposer, who had thought the whole thing a huge joke, had considerably difficulty in convincing him and it was some time before he was sufficiently soothed to consent to carry on with the ceremony. Needless to say, the proposer was severely censured by the W.M. This sort of thing is, of course, not Masonry, but a little consideration makes the origin of the allusion to branding fairly clear. Actually there is much more involved in the idea than is suggested in the wording of the ritual for the effects of our ceremonies upon the higher and more subtle vehicles of the candidate must be taken into account, as well as the effects of any possible breach of obligation. These make an indelible impression, easily recognised by anyone who has cultivated the necessary powers of sight. The true E.A. is indeed permanently and most efficiently "branded" as such. On these higher planes it is impossible that any pretence or falsehood should mislead one who has the "second sight" which goes with the "Mason Word", for all such are immediately and outstandingly apparent.
The other "leg-pull" which is sometimes put upon the Candidate takes the form of the remark "Well! Now you'll have to learn to ride the goat!". The majority of those who use the expression have no idea of its real meaning, and indeed would probably be very surprised to be told that it had any significance at all. We have already dealt with this point very fully elsewhere so there should be no necessity to dwell upon it here. Suffice it that basically the goat to be ridden or subdued is the animal nature of the Candidate himself, and the symbol of his riding to perfection occupies a prominent position in the porchway or entrance of Freemasons' Hall in London. At least we must hold that all such foolish joking is out-of-place in connection with such a very serious business as Initiation into Freemasonry, but at the same time it must be remembered that even such joking has had its value in the past in helping to preserve traditions which might otherwise have passed into oblivion.
There is much of a positive nature which the Sponsors can do to help the prospective candidate. There is a vast amount of advice and information which can be given to prepare him for that which lies before him, and there are many published works to which his attention may profitably be drawn. Herein lies a great opportunity and responsibility for those members of the Craft who know something of the requirements and who are in a position to judge to some extent where the prospective candidate stands, and what will be most helpful to him. There are undoubtedly many books which are of such a nature that, in the hands of a certain type of man who would make an excellent mason, they would only tend to regard him and prevent him from entering the Order. These same books, in the hands of another type, perhaps a man with practically none of the outward qualifications for membership, might prove a tremendous attraction and stimulate to the highest efforts at self-improvement.
In such Circles as this our Dormer, we have a chance to accentuate not only the beauties and supreme value of the Craft, but also some of the pitfalls and dangers into which the unprepared Candidate may unwittingly be led.
The task of Sponsor in then, by no means one to be lightly undertaken. It is a truly awesome responsibility to take upon oneself, to recommend a fellow being for Initiation, and it should entail tremendous searchings of heart, mind and conscience, not only to be assured that he is worthy to be introduced as an integral part of the Order, but also to be assured that one is oneself sufficiently worthy to assume the responsibility involved.
The duties of Sponsors do not end with the proposing or seconding of the candidature of the aspirant and the balloting in his favour in open Lodge. The other duties are summed up as, first, being reasonably assured that the aspirant knows what he is doing in seeking admission; second, in seeing to it that he is told as much as it is possible to communicate to him of the aims and objects of the order and, third, in being assured that he knows what is to be expected of him, not only during the ceremonies but as a member of the Order. There is a fourth duty which is important, that of preparing the Candidate for the degrees which follow upon his first entrance into the Craft, grounding him well in the last degree through which he has passed so that he can come prepared to derive the fullest possible benefit from the next ceremony. And, over and above all this, is the Sponsor's responsibility for stimulating in the Candidate a keen desire for knowledge and for the opportunity to serve.
Perhaps I have said enough on this subject. If I have overstressed it, my excuse must be that It Is so often overlooked and neglected.
Let us pass on to the evening when our Candidate presents himself — of his own free will and accord, and whether because of, or in spite of his Sponsors — to be initiated, fully assured that the ballot has proved favourable to his candidature and that he has been duly approved by the Brethren in open Lodge assembled, who are now fully prepared to receive him into the unbreakable ties of brotherhood, as one willing to come among them and to become an integral part of the particular Lodge-Man whom they represent, "in whom they live and move and have their being" as Masons.
The responsibility of the Brethren themselves is great in this respect, that of the Lodge Committee is greater, but that of the Sponsors is greatest of all.
When the Aspirant arrives he is taken in hand by the Tyler — the trained goat — who is his own lower or material nature personified. The Brother who acts as Tyler should be a Mason of experience, very thoroughly trained in the methods of preparation and able and willing to answer, so far as may be possible, any questions which the Aspirant may put to him during the course of the preparation. "It's just the custom." or "It's the way it's laid down that you have to be prepared," are all too common answers to his enquiries, and are no answer at all, and quite unnecessary if the Tyler knows his work. Sometimes one has an Aspirant who is inclined to push his enquiries too far and it may be necessary to put him off and to tell him that he will get the explanation he requires in due course, which may be truly said if the Lodge is "worth its salt". It is, however, really extraordinary how few of the questions put, even by a good and keen candidate, need remain wholly unanswered. Above all things needed by a good Tyler is tact, more especially if he is condemned to deal with candidates who have been subjected to some form of practical joke such as those to which I have already referred.
The attitude of the ideal Candidate is, as usual, well summed up by our late W.Bro. W. L. Wilmshurst who, talking of the E.A. degree, says: "It is a ceremony provided to give an answer to what the Candidate professes to be the predominant wish of his heart — a wish well expressed by probably the oldest prayer in the world, which is still used daily by millions of our fellowmen in the East:-
From the unreal lead me to the Real From darkness lead me to Light From the mortal bring me to Immortality!
The presence or absence of this aspiration In a Candidate should be the test of his fitness for Initiation."
Now let us take the physical preparation in order as given in answer to the interrogation:- "Describe the mode of your preparation." It begins, "I was divested of all metals and valuables", or sometimes "I was divested of all money and metallic substance", which comes to the same thing with the two items reversed, the former wording being the most far-reaching.
Many interpretations are, of course, possible. This is the case with all masonic symbolism. For the purpose I have in view I want to stress two interpretations. The first is the reference to the complete reversal of consciousness which must be an aim of each E.A. Thus far in his earth-life he may perhaps have rendered "unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matt. XXII, 21), but his tendency, like that of the whole world in which he lives — has been, in all probability, to put Caesar first and God second. In his own make up he has been overwhelmed with the "cares of the flesh", the demands of the Personality, and has neglected the call of the higher self: materiality has come before spirituality and microcosm has veiled macrocosm.
And now it is expected of him that his pendulum shall swing to the opposite extreme, but there is a danger here which is often overlooked although several hints of its existence are given in our ceremonies. This is the danger of overswing, the danger that the pendulum may swing over too far and, as a natural consequence, give rise in the following swing back, which, paradoxically enough, is necessary to its continued motion, to a still more profound materialism. Pursuing the analogy, we may say that so long as the swing into unbalanced spirituality is less than the swing into matter which preceded it, there is hope of true balance being attained. The analogy is not perfect — few analogies can approximate to perfection - but it is far more close to the truth than will be generally recognised, and it makes a most interesting subject for meditation.
You will probably tell me that all this teaching is paradoxical. I would not attempt to deny the fact, but it is a truism that genuine occult teaching can be communicated in no other manner but by means of paradox. Look, for instance, at these well-known lines from that wonderful text-book Light on the Path:-
Kill out ambition.
Kill out desire of life.
Kill out desire of comfort.
Work as those who are ambitious.
Respect life as those who desire it.
Be happy as those who live for happiness."
Could any teaching be more apparently paradoxical and contradictory?
The other interpretation of the deprivation of metals and valuables is more material and is associated with that "tuning-in" to which we have so often referred.
There exist vast stores of Divine Energy which can be, as It were, tapped and allowed to flow in controlled channels through the medium of ceremonial. It was knowledge of certain of these forces and of their action which, for instance, led to the adoption of peculiar patterns and combinations of materials in priestly vestments which, to the vulgar world, appeared merely as ornamentation. Metals, as we know well from our experience of that Divine Force which is most commonly used in our material world of today, and which we call electricity, are good conductors, and metals carried upon the person of the Candidate may largely annul the effects of our ceremonies. If a trained occultist is present it is possible that he may be able to counteract such subversive influences and render valid an initiation which would otherwise be void or, at least, not fully effective, but we cannot count upon that happening. It is, therefore, the more necessary that we should strictly adhere to the rules laid down for our guidance, be far more strict than is often the case in our lodges today. I myself have seen candidates ushered into the lodge with metal buttons, sock-suspenders and braces, and have seen the ceremonies carried through without any comment being made by highly-placed Brethren present, from whom such comment might have been expected, had they known anything at all of the Craft and its requirements. When such circumstances arise it is very difficult for a comparatively junior member to interfere, and usually all that the knowledgeable Brother can do is to take such measures as his occult training may have taught him to use in order to counter any deleterious effects..
All lower desires must, then, be put off and left behind by the true aspirant for the Path of Ever- becoming. The only desire left active - that of becoming One with the Ever-becoming — has ceased to be a desire in the accepted meaning of the term, for the aspirant has made it a part of himself. Herein lies the resolution of an apparent paradox.
In all the Ancient Mysteries and Rites into which Ceremonial Initiation was required the most scrupulous attention was paid to detail. The deprivation of all metals and valuables was even more than an indication of the complete renunciation of the influences which had affected the aspirant in his career before seeking admission to the Order. Among other influences which had to be thrown off at the period of his rebirth were those planetary influences under which he had taken physical birth. The time chosen for the ceremony was most carefully calculated to give the best possible planetary combinations and it became the more necessary that the candidate should carry nothing on his person which might interfere with his deriving the best possible results from the ceremony. Herein metals played an important role. Gold, for instance, the Sun metal, might stimulate intellectual pride; Sliver, the Moon metal, might tend to fickleness and instability; the Quicksilver of Mercury was held to promote dishonesty and covetousness; The Copper of Venus, lustfulness; the iron of mars, quarrelsomeness; the tin of Jupiter, tyranny and oppression; and the Lead of Saturn, slothfulness and overindulgence.
Any metal object, but, above all, a Sword — more especially one made of up a number of metals in combination — might be fatal to the whole regenerative act.
But, let us pass on to the next item, "and h.w."
At once we are up against another paradox, the paradox of the Light which can only be realised in Darkness. The Darkness symbolised is that of the material world, that world of illusion which must be experienced fully before it can be transcended and transcended before it can be sublimated in Light. It is experienced in full immersion in the matter of this world, it is transcended in perfect humility and confidence in the guidance of Spirit, and it is sublimated in a posture of prayer to T.G.A.O.T.U., when the Light is unveiled to the eyes. This Darkness is not that Great Darkness of the Soul wherein at a later stage Is observed a glimmering light in the East, which leads on to the last and greatest paradox of all, of which we will speak more fully in a later paper. The darkness with which we have to deal here is that in which so many of us continue to exist without the faintest inkling that we are in darkness at all. So soon as we begin to realize our condition of darkness, a phase indicated In the assuming of the h.w., we begin to prepare to separate ourselves from its causes, by learning the lessons it has to teach. Only by making this darkness our own - by making friends with the mammon of unrighteousness — in very truth can we reach that point when we can bear to behold the Light, this light which is not awareness of immensely increased knowledge nor accession of superhuman power, but an overwhelming conviction of absolute abysmal ignorance. It should usher In a condition of utmost humility. There I must leave this point for your own contemplation and go on to consider the next item, which is, "My r.a., l.b. & k. were made b. and my r.h.s.s."
Note first the clockwise ordering of the exposures. The r.a. of the positive, masculine and creative faculty in action; the l.b., the seat of Life as Love; the l.k. with which to contact Mother Earth at the Ob., the point often missed here being that the r.f. is still firmly and squarely planted, accentuating again the masculine principle, of which the Lodge itself is the counterpart on the feminine side, the Mother-nature. The l.k. balances on the negative side the positive r.a. The r.f. is, however s.s., partially bared, and so arranged that In his progress the Aspirant must limp, a point which must be considered at greater length when we come to the regular steps. The s.s. has the same symbolic intent as the loose metal sole of the foot of Vulcan, by which he holds in place the metal upon which he is working.
This clockwise order indicates the working of the negative, feminine receptive force which we have many times discussed under its Eastern title, IDA. As we saw in my paper on the "Masonic Trinity and Way of the Cross, (Trans. No. 8), this is the first channel stimulated into action in the awakening of the vital centres of the body. The circular form indicates a state of motion, and therefore of unbalance. This in turn indicates a change of state in the Ever-becoming, for it is this unbalance which is used in the production of all motion, whether circular or linear. All progress, and this applies to all planes of being, depends for its becoming upon the production of a state of unbalance. This word Ever-becoming, which I have used to describe Life itself, implies this state of unbalance. It Is the old paradox once more, which we find summed up in the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There can be no salvation, no redemption, without a fall, no good without evil, no light without darkness, no white without black in our pavement, no life without death in eternity. There are two Hermetic Maxims which state the position very concisely :-
"Love Life, for he is the Great Teacher; but love Death also, for he is the other self of Life, who alone can teach nothing."
"Strive to move and thou wilt fall. Strive to be still and thou wilt move."
The "Pairs of Opposites". as they are called in Eastern Philosophy, are Interdependent, and cannot exist in separation. This is the basic truth which lies behind the commonly held idea that this world is inherently evil. Actually it is nothing of the sort, but, without evil, the world, together with all that is good in it, would cease to exist. Which, one can only agree, is yet another paradox.
One point requires to be mentioned before we pass to the last phase of preparation for this degree.
The suggestion that the baring of the l.b. is connected with the recognition of the sex of the Candidate is, in my opinion, a recent accretion. It Is obviously later than the decision to exclude women from participation in the Craft ceremonies, an exclusion which came about through the preservation of the Gnosis being undertaken in medieval times of persecution, after the suppression of Mysteries under the later pseudo-Christian dispensation, by certain organisations in which the membership was already exclusively male, Such bodies were sometimes Guilds of Builders such as the Comacines and sometimes Military and Religious Orders such as the Templars and Hospitallers, all of which held ritual initiations for the protection of their own craft secrets. What better repositories could have been found for the Spiritual Truth of the Gnosis, threatened with extinction by the growing materialism of the Age.
I am in complete agreement with W.Bro. Wilmshurst's dictum that we, in the English Craft, represent the "Men's House", and, as such, United Grand Lodge has a perfect right to exclude women from a participation in our ceremonies, but the fact remains that the Craft ceremonies, unlike, for instance, those of the Christian Priesthood, are equally effective when applied to either the male or the female organism. We cannot deny the validity of the Rite as performed upon or by either sex. As this view is frowned upon in certain quarters, despite the facts, I must once more stress my own very strong feeling that the English Craft should continue to exclude the feminine element, and keep the Constitution as an entirely masculine organisation. At the same time I cannot but recognise that the world of today — and more particularly that of tomorrow — has a very real need for two other organisations working upon similar lines, one of which would open its doors to women only, while the other, admitting both sexes upon a perfect equality, would also, in time, become the common meeting place of those members of the other two Orders who might feel the occasional need of that balance of enlightenment which can come only by communion with members of the opposite sex who had reached a stage of enlightenment comparable with their own. The three orders would appear to be necessary if one is to carry out the obvious analogy with the three channels of force in the body of human beings, IDA, PINGALA and SUSHUMNA. This system of channelling is so universally fundamental that It is impossible that it should not keep turning up, even in the most unexpected quarters.
And so we come back to our preparation and the last physical item, "and a C.T. was placed about my n."
Here we have another interesting symbol. with some of the implications of which we have already dealt, in former papers.
That it is of the greatest antiquity is attested by its being found upon monuments of ancient civilizations throughout the world. In Freemasonry this cord appears in one form or another in every degree of the Craft series, and in various other degrees as well. In the Christian Tradition we find it depicted in the "Stations of the Cross" and there is here a curious and persistent change of location which is interesting. The change takes place in connection with the three falls on the way to that place which, in close assimilation with our masonic tradition, is called Golgotha. At the start from the Judgement Hall the Candidate is led by a C.T. about the neck; In the mid stage of the progress this has passed to the wrist and In the last stage to the waist. I commend the point more particularly to those who have completed the sequence by exaltation to the H.R.A.
Physiologically the C.T. is the Umbilical Cord, and one of the first things that the obstetrician has to guard against in ushering a child into this world is that this cord may have got round the baby's neck. The child may be in very real danger of death from strangling or from premature breaking of the cord.
On a vase found at Chama in Mexico are depicted several candidates in process of initiation of some sort. One of them is being taught the Sn. of the degree and the others await their turn, each with a C.T. with a r.n. about his n.
In India this is the symbol of YAMA, the God of Death, and he uses it to draw the soul of man out of his body. SHIVA carries the symbol as an emblem of his function as Destroyer. The hand which holds it is that which holds the position of the F.C.Sn. of P., while another makes the P.S. of a M.M. The Noose of YAMA is therefore the emblem of Death, but it is also an emblem of Life and of preservation and is closely allied to the Egyptian Ankh Cross, the symbol of Resurrection. Shiva is the Lord not only of Death but also of Birth. As a pair of opposites death and birth are inseparable. The E.A. is a degree of Birth certainly, but Birth, as we know it, is Death in that it entails Limitation.
Captives wore the symbol to show that they were at the mercy of their captors. The assumption of cords, in the form of girdles, halters and badges, was a common method of showing voluntary submission in cases such as that of Citizens surrendering the Keys of a city to its captor. The well- known case of the Burgesses of Calais illustrates the point. They came out with the keys to Edward III, in their shirts and each with a noose about his neck. They were saved by the pleading of Queen Philippa, representing the Female Principle. Religious Orders use the cord, usually in the form of a girdle, in token of Humility and subjection to the heads of their confraternities. This is not confined to the Christian Orders alone, for it is common amongst the Buddhist Orders. As a purely ceremonial symbol, the cord is one of the most ancient known. It was — and is — the peculiar badge of the Brahmin Initiate, and the science of its colour combinations and blendings is an elaborate one, the manufacture of the cords being a matter of sacred detail. As an Hermetic emblem the thrice — turned C.T. or cord- of-three-loops was well known.
As I have pointed out on a previous occasion, this is the Egyptian hieroglyph of "Ch", the equivalent of the Hebrew letter CHETH= 8. Once more I must refer you to Transaction No. 8. The ChR therein dealt with is a transformation of the Hebrew RCh=Light, which may be considered as significant. The Christian symbol of the redeemer was a pair of cords forming two loops as do the serpents in the Caduceus of Mercury. They again represent IDA and PINGALA. I cannot go into the numerology of this figure in connection with the first 8 digits, but it is well worth close study.
If the C.T. and the Triple Loop of Hermes are considered together, the C.T. becomes the cord uniting Spirit and Matter, by which the higher bodies are held to those denser vehicles which they must inhabit for a time, "or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return to God who gave it", (Eccl. XII, v.6.). Four very delightful pieces of symbolism of which I recommend the last as of particular interest to those of you who are interested in the Wheels, CHAKPAS or Centres of Force in the body. The obvious reference to the Sacral Plexus and its close proximity to the bladder is interesting.
I could say much more on the subject of the C.T. but we really must try to get the preparation of our Candidate completed in this paper.
So, just one last point before we turn to the preparation for Passing. The arrival of the Candidate for any degree should take the form of an "Alarm". It cannot be a "Report" because he should know nothing of the knocks of the degree to which he seeks admission. When he comes forward for Initiation, therefore, the Tyler should place his hand on the door and tell him to knock once. The knock should be given by the Candidate himself and not by the Tyler, in recognition, as W.Bro. Wilmshurst put it, that "any opposition to his spiritual advancement comes from within himself and must be overcome by his own efforts."
The E.A. Lecture is illuminating on this subject but, unfortunately, in most of our Lodges the Tyler gives the E.A. knocks at once, which does not convey the information that it should convey to the Lodge in Session, that someone stands without and seeks admission who is not a member of the Craft. This procedure upsets the whole symbolism, besides which it is not sound in practice. The best manner of combining the two knockings is the ritual used in "Living Stones". Here the Candidate gives the single knock and, having been recognised, is entrusted with the E.A. sequence by means of which he may seek admission. This is sound symbolism and by this means his vibratory rate is brought into tune with the Lodge before his entrance, instead of, as is usually the case, being tuned-in more gradually and more painfully, as the Ceremony proceeds.
So much for the Preparation for Initiation. And now we will prepare our Candidate for passing, as it is best to consider the preparations together, so that differences, similarities and sequences may be noted.
The E.A.Is not "entitled" to be passed, nor even "recommended" except at his own request. The urge towards a fuller self-expression must be present. W.Bro. Wilmshurst has written extensively upon this point.
Then he has to show that he has reached a certain stage of development, a thing which he does figuratively by answering certain set test questions. In these questions and in the answers which he is expected to give, he should find a number of points which he does not get elsewhere. At least he should come to a realisation that what prompted him first to seek initiation was a stirring within himself. In the E.A. Preparation it is the l.b., the sinister portion of the H. as the seat of Emotion that was stirred into activity. This time it will be the r.b., the dexter portion of the H. as the temple of thought which becomes active "for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs XXIII, 7). Note here that thought is not a mental but a cardiac process. Then in the answers comes a description of his physical preparation and this is followed by a number of questions about Freemasonry in general. There is a distinct hint, generally overlooked in this connection, of the necessity for paradox in the communication of all Masonic Teaching. The definition of Freemasonry given is that of Freemasonry as seen by an E.A., and is not necessarily applicable to those who have travelled further on the road, who should have unveiled part of the allegory and have made some of the realities lying behind the symbols their own.
The remainder of the questions and answers are pregnant with deeper meanings than those which appear on the surface but a full unfolding of these would keep us here longer than any of us are likely to live. Suffice it that W.Bro. Wilmshurst writes of them, "It cannot be too earnestly impressed upon Brethren how deep and rich with meaning are both, these test questions and our official lectures, which ordinarily they are content to hurry over and treat as but routine formalities."
Having been thus tested, the Candidate pledges himself to "persevere steadily" through the coming ceremony, a pledge which carries with it much deeper implications than meet the eye or are realised by most of the Brethren today. In ancient times they were more full of significance, as we shall see. Having pledged his secrecy he is entrusted with p.g. and p.w., the object of which is to enable him to raise his vibrations, in exactly the same way as the ceremony of Opening raises those of the Lodge.
There is a firm belief among certain masonic students that the p.w's. leading to F.C. and M.M. respectively were reversed at a comparatively recent date. If the fact is so, I can only feel that it must have been a rehabilitation and that there must have been an earlier reversal as well, for, in my humble opinion, they are certainly in their correct relation now, and there is internal evidence to back that opinion. I will select one point only, the changes which take place in the Apron, which involve the carrying of no metal into the Lodge until the investiture takes place in the Ill degree. Thus it is deferred until the Candidate has made acquaintance with T-C, who, as we have seen, is identifiable with Vulcan and is described as the f. a. in m's.
The Candidate then retires for the physical preparation, which turns out to be the exact opposite of that which he underwent before. The order of exposure is anti-clockwise. The l.a. of the negative, feminine, preservative faculty in action; the r.b., the seat of Life as Wisdom; the r.k. with which to contact Mother Earth at the Ob., again noting that, in this case, the I.f. is firmly and squarely planted to accentuate the feminine principle of which the masculine counterpart is discovered in this degree in the Centre of the Lodge. As with the r.f. in the E.A. degree so it is with the l.f. in this, once more causing the progression to be halting. In this connection the outline section of the slip-sole attributed to Vulcan is of interest, for it is no other than the Egyptian Hieroglyph of the Horizon. This is a point I would commend to your attention.
The anti-clockwise order indicates the working of the positive, masculine, inceptive force of PINGALA, the second channel of vital force to be stimulated, indicating, as before, a state of unbalance, and, therefore, of progress.
The Candidate is of course in possession of the E.A. knocks which he uses to give the alarm of his approach. Again it is incorrect for anyone but the Candidate himself to give the signal and he cannot give those of a F.C. until he knows what they are.
Now let us see what happens when the Candidate presents himself to be Raised.
As before the Candidate has to pass certain tests, symbolised in a set of formal questions and answers, usually and regrettably merely formal. The questionnaire is, as in the former case, full of interest but I am not going to deal with it in detail here.
You will at once perceive that IDA and PINGALA appear again under the veil of the two G.P's. at the pw. or a of K.S.T.
IDA is the masculine in strength and PINGALA to establish the feminine. Acting together to establish equilibrium in strength and balance they lead up to the stability of SUSHUMNA, which is of course the mid-line of the Temple itself, represented by the p.w. or e. itself.
The p.w., T.C. we have mentioned before.
The Candidate himself must ask for promotion before he can be Raised. It is to be noted, however, that whereas on coming forward for Passing he was led to hope that the progress he had made would recommend him to be passed to the II degree, he now comes forward with his further request in the hope that the progress he has made will entitle to be Raised to the S.D. of a M.M. In my opinion it is greatly to be regretted that in some workings this distinction of wording is not made, for it emphasises an essential difference between the two cases. As an E.A. the Candidate was necessarily, as we have seen, in a totally unbalanced condition and the second ceremony is also a ceremony based upon unbalance. But, and here Is the crux of the matter, the two unbalanced forces should not only be opposite but equal, and the resultant state is, therefore, a state of balance, which, when fully attained, will enable the third channel SUSHUMNA to be opened. The words recommend and entitle express this difference of approach.
The physical preparation is such as to bring out this state of balance, for we have b.a's., b.b's. and b.k's. made b. and b.h's. s.s. The a's show IDA and PINGALA, the masculine and feminine, united in SUSHUMNA, the completed Androgyne. The b's. show us Love-Wisdom flowing forth in the first real recognition of the fullness of the Intuition. Both k's. contact Mother Earth and the Lodge becomes one with the S.S. at its C. In the E.A. the l.f. was raised to the first step on the ladder. In the F.C. the r.f. joins it and the first round is accomplished in the balance of the M.M.
The whole Craft system is a ladder up which the Candidate must journey in search of the self. During his progress he contacts many teachings, some of which he accepts, some he rejects, and some he holds in the balance until such time as he feels that he can accept or reject them with safety. If you ask the average Candidate may he classifies things in this way he will probably reply that his instinct, or his reason, or his intuition, has forced him to decide one way or other and to group the teachings under these three heads.
But the question may be pressed a step further and he may be asked to define the instinct, reason or intuition which has been his guide or ruler in the matter. If he is a true thinker and honest with himself he will be forced to recognise all these faculties as but aspects of himself. Immediately he begins to question their authority he finds that they cannot show him a basis for this authority or tell him whence it comes. The very act of questioning authority slays it immediately. He finds that he has been relying upon some aspect of himself which he has recognised as self and he begins to ask if self is to set itself up as a judge. If the answer is in the affirmative, this self is automatically annihilated and the judgement falls to the ground. But always the place of this self is taken by another self to which it is possible once more to give no other name but self.
Thus the self appears as no fixed resting-place and his time must be spent in preparation to meet a new self which, being faced and questioned, is once more dissipated, to make room for yet another.
At last the self is seen to be an endless ladder to be mounted step by step in the Ever-becoming of Life. As each step is reached it is named "self" and he relies upon it for support, but leaves it behind as he realises that his real support and reliance lies upon a higher step which this, upon which he has relied, has helped him to reach. Then again he begins to question, asking upon what he must ultimately depend for support, if not upon these successive steps. These are but selves, evanescent and ever proving to be unreal. But the ladder, firm planted within the Eternal is surely the real self. The ladder is itself the Eternal Life and the Ever-becoming, which is the real Self.
Freemasonry is a DISCIPLINE.
We, taken by and large, are not yet ready for Discipleship. We are not yet ready to take up that relationship to our Master which we have noted in the relationship between CHELA and GURU. The Chela, the true Disciple, must be sufficiently developed to be able to enter into the Consciousness of the Master, the Guru, and laying his own consciousness alongside that of the Master, make them one for the comparison of their content and for the correction of his own mistakes. In Freemasonry we have the necessary mechanism for the attainment of Discipleship, as true a Discipline as that of any Monastic Order that ever existed.
The Preparation of the Candidate for the various ceremonies is intended to make easy his road, upon which he must carry with him the lessons learned in the three Craft degrees which are summed up in the three watch-words which together form the motto of United Grand Lodge of England and of the Craft in General:-
AUDI VIDE TACE.
I end with two sentences culled from a novel, "Brother Petroc's Return" by G.M.C.
"God dwells in the centre of a pure heart. Some reach Him and prepare a dwelling for Him by clearing away all obstacles, others cling to Him by Faith, Hope and Charity, fixing their gaze on Him and, by the very intensity of that gaze, remove, without much conscious reversion to self, all that is contrary to Him."
"Only one thing really matters and that is the possession of God, which we attain in this life by Faith, Hope and Charity, though in the blessed Life beyond Charity alone remains."
Need I add that in both quotations the word Charity must be taken in its widest sense and not in the narrow and restricted sense in which it is commonly used today?
One final word, speaking of real Initiation —
Let none ask to be initiated as a favour. When he is ready he may demand it as a right, nor can it be refused but the pass word must first be given, the pass word which none can be told, but each must find for himself (W. Kingsland. The Esoteric Basis of Christianity).